You probably know from experience that zippers are one of the first things to fail on many pieces of gear. In fact, one of the reasons I started buying Maxpedition gear so religiously is that their zippers are hefty YKK numbers – and I’ve never had one break on me. All the same, I’m also fond of maintaining my zippers to ensure that they’ll give me years of use.
Keeping your zippers working smoothly is simply a matter of waxing the teeth, and you can use almost any kind of wax, including beeswax or paraffin wax. I use the latter because I bought boxes of the stuff years ago for a different project and now I have plenty of it lying around. (One of the bars in the picture would be enough to wax hundreds of zippers, so if you pick up a box at the grocery store, you’ll probably be set for life.) Waxing accomplishes two things:
- The wax lubricates the zipper.
- It also helps to form a more watertight seal, although the effectiveness will decline over use and require additional waxing.
All you need to do is take a chunk of wax and rub it along the zipper’s teeth. Make sure to get both sides, and then run the zipper up and down the entire length a few times. You can repeat this process if you’d like, and since the wax is cheap, I see no reason not to.
You should immediately notice that the zipper slides more smoothly once the wax is applied. This is one of the first things I do when I get a new piece of gear, and doing so has kept all of my zippers working perfectly and the gear within them dry. I’ve seen that stiff or sticky zippers are a common complaint with heavy-duty gear, and waxing will almost always solve the issue.
Be sure to wax the zippers on your packs, rain flies, and rain jackets. One word of caution before you head off to it: after waxing your zipper, it will shed little flakes of wax over the following few uses. This could be an annoyance if the flakes get all over a camera lens or something of that nature, so be aware of the possibility.